Future iPhones could have a 'situational awareness module' that will enable the device to anticipate user needs, triggering particular functions based on environmental attributes, a new Apple patent filing reveals. 

The US Patent and Trademark Office published the patent application, titled "Electronic device with automatic mode switching", on Tuesday, in which Apple describes that the proposed invention could predict or anticipate "a user's operational desires," performing the anticipated function without input from the user by using sensors to sense environmental attributes.

"The sensors can include an ambient light sensor, a force sensor, a temperature sensor, an ambient noise sensor, and a motion sensor," Apple explains, adding that the invention would also include "a control mechanism for switching between modes for the device."

In addition to the sensors listed above, the invention could take into consideration other factors such as touch, orientation and time.

The patent application points to portable electronic devices that use a hold switch to prevent users from being able to carry out input actions. While the hold switch ensures that no accidental input takes place while in a bag or pocket, for example, Apple notes that the hold switch can add several actions that a user must make, and so the invention described aims to reduce the number of actions that need to be taken by the user.

Apple's invention could include an automatic hold feature that would switch between the input and hold modes based on the sensor output. For example, if the ambient light level surrounding the device is low, it's likely that the user has placed it in a pocket or bag, and therefore the auto hold feature would be activated.

When a user removes the device from their pocket or bag, to select a new song, for example, the invention would detect a higher level of ambient light and automatically turn off the hold feature.

Other uses for the invention include adjusting the volume depending on the level of ambient noise and switching between ring and vibrate modes based on ambient light and time.

Users could customise the feature to ensure that the device doesn't automatically carry out functions when they are not desired.

[Via Apple Insider]


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